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Tennessee Rhythm Riders

Little Red Wagon – 1999 (Studio 28)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Tennessee Rhythm Riders

England's Tennessee Rhythm Riders clearly take the Maddox Brothers and Rose as their musical lodestar. They've dubbed themselves "Europe's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band," they provide a musical bio of the Maddoxes in one of their songs, "Rambling Rose," and more generally, they try to inject the same rollicking spirit into their music that MB&R were famous for. This spirit is evident on tunes such as their take on Merle Lindsay's title track, on a hillbilly-filtered version of "Viva Las Vegas" filled with whoops, hollers, cackles and popgun shots, on the band's own "I'll Be Waiting For You" and on a "Rhumba Boogie" that successfully captures a Hank Snow beat.

Their other covers and originals, while perhaps less exuberant at times, are also generally in a hillbilly swing vein. Yet, the CD gives reason to think that the band is at least as successful when playing material that's closer to straight honky tonk. Lynette Morgan really shines on covers of Kitty Wells' famous answer song "Honky Tonk Angels" and a pair of Patsy Cline songs - "How Can I Face Tomorrow" and "Leaving On Your Mind"- particularly on the latter, a spare reading made up of Morgan's vocals, acoustic guitar and fiddle and doo wop harmonies.

As a bonus, these English hillbillies show their high-tech side by including two Quicktime video tracks.